As the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU) prepares for its first copyright review hearing next week featuring various representatives from the education community, MPs will regularly hear witnesses talk about the “copyright balance.” For Canadian copyright policy, balance has long been a foundational goal, regularly reflected in the views of both government and the courts. Yet according to a document obtained under the Access to Information Act, last fall officials at the Ministry of Canadian Heritage advised Minister Melanie Joly to abandon the emphasis on a copyright balance.
Archive for April, 2018
Against Copyright Balance: Canadian Heritage Officials Say It’s Time “To Move Beyond the Notion of Balance”
CRTC Website Blocking Submissions Confirm Over-Blocking Risks: “Every Blocking Technique Suffers from Over-blocking and Under-blocking”
With broad-based criticism of the Bell website blocking plan, supporters have tried to dismiss the opposition by characterizing much of their analysis as “misinformation”. Yet a review of many expert submissions reveals widely held concerns regarding the proposal. Many point to the absence of court orders as a key flaw and no one – whether supporter or critic – disputes that the majority of countries that have used site blocking require court orders. Further, claims that human rights concerns are unfounded ring hollow in light of the critical submission from the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression. Efforts to dismiss the cost implications of site blocking are undermined by the clear position of the majority of Canadian Internet providers that the expenses associated with blocking are likely to lead to increased consumer costs and reduced competition.
Many submissions similarly point to the risks of over-blocking legitimate content.
Data Rules in Modern Trade Agreements: Toward Reconciling an Open Internet with Privacy and Security Safeguards
CIGI’s essay series on data governance in the digital age has shone a spotlight on the need for a national data strategy. My contribution notes that central to any data strategy will be some measure of data control. Given the implications for privacy, security and innovation policies, this includes some control over where data is stored and the conditions under which it is transferred across borders. Yet, despite the mounting data concerns, Canada may have already signed away much of its policy flexibility with respect to rules on both data localization and data transfers, severely restricting its ability to implement policy measures in the national interest.
Canadian Internet Providers Warn of Site Blocking Consequences: Threat to Affordable Internet Access and Market Competition
Given that Canadian consumers pay some of the highest fees among peer countries for Internet and wireless access, the federal government has increasingly emphasized the need to address Internet affordability. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has told the House of Commons that “Canadians pay enough for their Internet” and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains echoed the same concerns in a speech last year, noting that high costs create a digital divide that represents a barrier to continued prosperity for Canadians.
The Internet access cost concerns seems likely to emerge as a key issue in response to the Bell coalition website blocking plan. While some have tried to deflect the cost concern by pointing to the purported anti-piracy benefits of blocking (a claim that is subject to considerable dispute in the CRTC submissions), the clear position of the majority of Canadian providers – whether independent ISPs, cable companies, or satellite-based providers – is that the costs associated with blocking are likely to lead to increased consumer costs, reduced competition, and risks to extending broadband services to under-served areas.